Cleveland chose the Hurricanes over Missouri and Auburn, pointing to Jim Larranaga’s past success with transfers as key in his decision.
“I picked Miami because they made it known from the beginning that I was their main priority,” he told ESPN. “They reached out to me as soon as my name was in the portal and they stayed super consistent with me. I also picked them because of the way they play. Having played them four times now, I can really see myself thrive in that system.
“And probably the biggest reason is that all the transfers that they’ve gotten have been All-ACC selections and they’ve won, and I want to be the next.”
Cleveland, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward, averaged 13.8 points and 7.4 rebounds last season — including an eight-game stretch midway through the campaign where he posted eight straight double-doubles and averaged 17.5 points and 11.9 rebounds. The Atlanta native also made strides as a shooter, going from six made 3s on 17.6% shooting in his first season to 21 3s on 35% shooting last season.
At Miami, Cleveland will replace Jordan Miller, a former George Mason transfer who averaged 15.3 points last season and helped lead the Hurricanes to the program’s first Final Four.
Cleveland faced Miller several times and was able to see his development after entering the program.
“It was very important because I saw it first-hand, and I saw from my freshman year to last year how much he improved and how he had a lot of confidence within their system,” he said.
Larranaga and the Hurricanes are reloading after their second consecutive deep NCAA tournament run. In addition to Miller, Miami is replacing ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong. Returning starters Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier are testing the NBA draft waters, but both are expected to return to Coral Gables.
Miller, Pack and Omier are all former transfers, while the Hurricanes’ 2022 Elite Eight team also featured former transfers Charlie Moore and Kameron McGusty starting in the backcourt.
Cleveland is ranked No. 30 in ESPN’s transfer rankings but was the eighth-best available player. Miami was ranked No. 19 in ESPN’s most recent Way-Too-Early Top 25.